Wednesday assorted links


#2 What kind of "next day performance"? 3 O'clock in the morning performance? I mean if you're already up...or most especially if your blood is for that matter.

#4 Very happy to see The Efficiency Paradox making that list.

#5 Ineffable Twaddle. I always thought that it would make a great Nom de plume for someone someday (especially because 98% of people probably don't know what it means and would actually think that was someone's actual name). It was just waiting for the right person. Ross Douthat is that person.

'What kind of "next day performance"?'

The article actually has an interesting idea to use publicly available, relatively reliable and objective data: NBA players who tweet late at night, and how good their performance is the next game. They even adjust for factors such as were they traveling (in the usual sense, not the basketball sense) the night before.

I can only read the abstract, not the actual article, but the rest of the research seems to be problematic. Instead of using sophisticated measures of performance they seem to simply count how many points, turnovers, etc. the player had. They do look at shooting, which is a pretty good measure, but I'm not sure if they did a decent job of adjusting the shooting statistics for 3-pointers vs 2-pointers.

And as Tyler points out, there may be omitted variables such as what else was the player doing the night before.

Agreed. How do these people account for "having a bad day"? Is that measureable? Does every bad day correlate to a specific behavior?

Also of interest, measuring the increasingly similarity between "tweeting" and "having a bad day". There used to be less correlation.

Not anymore.

#1: Not entirely sure about that. Doubt English is fully non-pro-drop.

And I am not sure that German is fully non-pro-drop either, at least in the sense that an article (der, die, das) can also serve as a pronoun.

Just imagine using 'the' as a pronoun - instead of 'the car' being replaced by 'it,' 'the car' is replaced by 'the.' Even better, imagine the possessive 'the car's...' being replaced by 'the's....'

(And if one were to use 'one.' would that be considered a pronoun? Yes, but that would not answer in which form - including using the number itself as a pronoun. Which basically means that all numbers can be considered pronouns in English - except when they aren't, of course.)

The German article does double duty as a demonstrative too. "Der" = "the" but also "that

#5. this seems relevant. There was an exchange I stumbled upon between Andrew Sullivan here and Ezra Klein here. Klein criticizes Sullivan for preclaiming that the decline of religion has something to do with rising tribalism, but I think Sullivan is onto something and Ezra Klein is missing the point. It's not that religious identity prevents political tribalism, but more that people need an avenue to find some sort of meaning in life, generally of a spiritual nature. So if they aren't going to church or practicing some sort of spiritual practice many people are going to find politics filling that void. Alternatively, religion gives people something to focus on other than politics so it draws some heat away from political debates.
Obviously Kleins got a point that when religion becomes intertwined with politics it can make things worse, but we've had a decent sized (not insurmountable) wall between church and state for some centuries so that prevents people from fighting their religious wars via politics.
What people choose to focus on besides politics doesn't need to be Christianity, and it doesn't even need to be religion though. It just seems to be helpful for people to have some sort of avenue to find personal identity and meaning via so they don't end up deriving it all from politics. If your entire identity is wrapped up in politics that makes political setbacks personal humiliations that have to be revenged.

TC's said somewhere on this blog that the most important thinkers of the 21st century will be religious thinkers and I think he's getting at the same idea that you and Sullivan are getting at, but that Klein is missing.

FWIW, I listened to Klein's talk with Jonathan Haidt and concluded that Ezra is a shocking lightweight.

Ezra Klein's renown stems from two things: 1) he was an early comer to the blogging world, especially the data-savvy "rational-empiricist-facts-and-figures" end of it, before that field got much larger and higher-quality figures (like our own Tyler) emerged and 2) he is well-connected in the Democratic Party, and thus was able to get key referrals for outlets like Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg to eventually be able to become chief of Vox.

At this point, he's a relic of the Obama era, and will be as relevant in 2019 as John Podhoretz or the other neoconservative writers of the Bush years were in 2012: present, but uninsightful as they continued to pound the drums for ideologies whose time had passed. I am continually unimpressed by Ezra's exchanges with any number of people across the political spectrum, from Bernie Sanders to Sam Harris.

7. Mr. Douthat's Op-Ed today looks like a young Maya Angelou behind the wheel of her father's car with her father passed out. Indeed, Ms. Angelou's text, taught through out the nation is public school, is a fundamentally Christian text (lost on the NYT).
It beings at the Garden of Gethsemane and ends at Genesis. The amount of Adam and Eve analogues is unheard of. Still, it disagrees with Mr. Douthat's claim that "experience is to be sought in fuller communion with the immanent world rather than a leap toward the transcendent." She feels quite alive behind the wheel of her father's car. What's more, while Bailey might be a Pagan, it does not end particularly well for him. Secondly, when you have Hollywood coming out with fundamentally Christian shows like Panthers and Rectitude, even Mad Men, which are also bound by the fact their shows, to transcendence, Mr. Douthat's Op-Ed becomes a sample in bad writing which comes to a head when he asserts that new age dieting is an effect of paganism.

The Marvel movies are all fundamentally pagan shows. Still, not very many 18-22 year-olds see them -- maybe two or three per class.

A bunch of women in one of my classes were into a mind-power book called "The Secret" but the men seemed to think that it was bullshit, to the extent that they were paying any attention to the discussion.

Probably men prefer the virtual paganism of computer-games -- gods of conquest rather than gods of domestic accumulation.

#5 Douthat was the best link here in some time, agreed.

My overriding thought for the last years is, how do I prepare my children, currently under ten yo, to live in this world.

Can’t show them twitter. Can’t show them npr. Can’t show them Kant.

When I grew up I unenthusiastically went to Catholic Church with parents. They were unenthusiastic too- but we hung a conversation on that.

What do I hang my kids’ conversation on? Unitarian Universaliam? Don’t think so.

I dunno. Maybe encourage them to be Goths. Goth culture is sort of like a Pagan-Catholic-RPG syncretism. Half of them practice witchcraft, but they still believe in vampires and demons and heaven and hell. And you get to dress up in costumes.

I missed the Goth thing by a couple of years but I probably would have made an excellent Goth if I had has a couple goth friends in high school. My mother was an enthusiastic Catholic.

Tyler's best podcast guest, Joe Henrich, described how monotheistic religions replaced polytheistic religions in part because as societies scaled up, incorporated new territories, and traded more, it was socially and economically useful to have an all-seeing, all-powerful God in the minds of the masses who would punish people if they mistreated strangers. You can picture this as helping mitigate conflict at the individual level (ie, don't beat that guy up and take his stuff or you'll go to hell), but also at the group level (don't go all pogrom-y on the Jews, or you and your friends will all go to hell).

I think of that as anthropological evidence that points in favor of Sullivan's view.

But what then do we make of China, India, and Japan, whose religions lack a monotheistic deity?

And probably most of the other east, southeast, and east Asian cultures, which to my knowledge lack monotheistic religions, but I might be overlooking some.

That is a fine question, but one you will have to pose to Mr. Henrich, because I do not know the answer.

Douhat seems to be stuck in the mindset that everyone has to have a religion, be it Christian or other.

>It's not that religious identity prevents political tribalism

In the US, since the 80s, religion is a hallmark of political tribalism. Part of what is driving people away from establishment Christianity is due to the politicization of religion.

5. Douthat is absolutely right. There is a huge opportunity space now for a syncretic, post-Christian religion or religion-like movement. There are many potential candidates. But the winner will be whatever combination of charismatic individual and doctrine is present to trigger a mass mimetic response in the ripest moment It won't be an Oprah or an Osteen, unless they can somehow establish mortal stakes. There must be a sacrificial victim.

+1 For bringing Girard into the discussion.

jordan peterson thinks of himself as a prophet of that new self-consciously instrumental religion. maybe patreon will turn him into a martyr by kicking him off of their subscription service?

deplatforming is about as close to we can get to crucifixion these peaceful times.

More accurately, both French and Americans protest against new taxes in their usual ways. French on the streets, Americans in mid-terms where they hinder their government far more than a street protest.

Voting on its own does not hinder the government. Blame politicians and a political system that rewards intense partisan loyalty.

You mean voting out tanstaafl politicians and demanding politicians promise endless free lunches doess not hinder government?

Eg, voting out HW, voting out Democrats in 1994, 2010, voting in free lunch Trump, do not hinder government?

Do you seriously believe its possible to cut costs and at the same time create jobs and thus prosperity, higher GDP, wealth?

We do have the State governments that pursue contrary policies, like the Trump viting States which cut costs to create increased poverity, ecconomic decline, and the radical leftist high cost of living States where voter vote for even higher costs knowing higher costs mean more income, more wealth, more economic growth, eg California, NYC, New England, etc follow higher costs.

Since Reagan, the GOP has been running on free lunch political-economics. Eg, you have more liberty when your neighbor imposes his religion on you whether when they dicfate your health care options, or they dictate that dumping toxic sludge on your land, or pollution in your drinking water because god would never kill the righteous with lead and mercury in drinking water. Not to mention, you are much richer when paid only 30% of your past wage doing the same thing because you get a huge tax cut that puts lots more money in your pocket, even if your tax rate stays the same. After all, cutting the tax rate on money not paid to workers (profits) cuts labor costs putting money in worker pockets from lower tax bills while increasing wealth parked in tax havens and the wealth effect increases debt funded consumption by the workers whose income was cut. When cutting taxes means no new transportation, water, sewer, affordable housing can't be built, so house prices are inflated by scarcity, so you can borrow more to buy food, so you are richer now that you owe $50,000 more and own a $500,000 house (with $480,000 mortgage).

I grew up when conservatism meant never borrowing to consume, and borrowing the minimum to build income producing capital, debt paid off asap. The competition was getting to "burn the mortgage" before anyone else you know, parents, siblings, neighbors, at a party, that was byob, because you didn't pay off the mortgage or car loan by giving beer away to everyone who drinks too much and calls in sick the next day. (Trump doesnt drink to make money on other people drinking, and celebrates getting debt written off in bankruptcy.)

Trump was recently honest about his free lunch politics: hhe doesntt care about debt because he won't be around when the US suffers like Greece, et al, but he gets more of what he wants by going deeper and deeper in debt. And that is what it meas to be a conservative Republican: never pay the costs of what you want.

The US will never suffer as Greece has. The US borrows and spends in money it creates.

Yes, this time it's different. Our debt is not like all those historical cases ending in defaults. We can always print our way out. Venezuela should be out role model--- you don't need taxes, just a printing press. Debasing the currency is a great new idea.

Actually, your right. We won't suffer as Greece has, because there will be no one to bail us out. It will be worse.

3. Darn tootin'

By the way, in recent threads I have expressed my lack of fear of China. This is the reason why. I think that having achieved some market reforms, and some wealth, they are now turning away. They're turning away from the individual freedom and entrepreneurship that makes a society truly dynamic.

I realize that Milton Friedman's "free to choose" binding is not quite as strongly supported as it once was. But that is not to say it is fully disproven, or that commanding people not buy iPhones is the way to achieve technical dominance.

So to the degree that China turns away from the good path, be relieved that they leave it to us.

They leave it to us to balance economic efficiency with fairness, leaning a bit harder on the efficiency. I say unironically, that is the American Way.

"Maybe rah-rah partisans really believe it is. But more likely, it is just wishful thinking. Trump appears eager to avoid most of the economic problems facing the nation. By banking on so much growth from cutting taxes, Moore and Laffer are, in effect, giving him a pass and kicking the can down the road to a future leader more interested in confronting hard policy choices"

I call Moore, Laffler, Kudlow, and their ilk, whatever the affiliation, "Boasters." They live in a world of circle jerks who service each other in not bothering about evidence. It's a form of the Argument from Authority better labeled the Argument from the Horse's Ass. But it's good to see Mankiw and Barro, two of my favorite economists, stepping up.

BTW, I have years of posts on economics blogs which I'll stand by as against Boasters.

#5..."In popular religious practice there isn’t always a clean line between this “immanent” religion and the transcendent alternative offered by Christianity and Judaism."

What about Islam? In any case, Im not quite sure that Judaism fits this description. I need a clearer explanation.

"Immanent" and "transcendent" are imaginary predicates -- the latter meaningless without picturing an enclosure that God is outside of and the former merely the denial of the latter. So, is Judaism's God pictured as living outside of the enclosed space that we inhabit? Various "Old Testament" passages indicated that he's located somewhere above us, but not necessarily beyond the roof of the world. Later on, stoned rabbis say that God is "the place (makom) of the world" -- which doesn't suggest God's being located outside. People are pretty much allowed to imagine whatever they want to imagine (e.g. all of the tripping kabbalists) as long as they don't break the rules. This whole immanence vs. transcendence thing might be a 19th century scholarly fraud

Christianity, Judaism and Islam all posit a God who is both transcendent and immanent.

#5. "What is that conception? Simply this: that divinity is fundamentally inside the world rather than outside it"

I'm no Biblical scholar, but there is at least one plausible interpretation of Jesus's vision of the "Kingdom of God" that suggests we has talking about building communities right here on the blue orb.

I think you're right. I like the formulation in the Gospel of Thomas (a non-canonical gospel, see here, which is along the same line.

The disciples ask, "When will the kingdom come?", and Jesus responds: "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."

The Gospel of Thomas comes off like it was written by 19th Century German revolutionaries who'd redd a bunch of Hegel, which suggests that it was probably written in an intentionally social-critical spirit by the 2nd Century equivalent thereof -- maybe drop-outs from one of the Stoical finishing-schools that young gentlemen were sent to by their dads.

The Gospel Of Thomas
by Thomas O. Lambdin
"The Gospel of Thomas is a New Testament-era apocryphon completely preserved in a papyrus Coptic manuscript discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. The book was bound in a method now called Coptic binding. Unlike the four canonical gospels, which combine narrative accounts of the life of Jesus with sayings, Thomas is a "sayings" text, a collection of logia, which takes the less structured form of a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus (including brief dialogues), the writing down of which is credited in the incipit to Didymus Judas Thomas. The words Didymus and Thomas are both translated "twin" giving emphasis to the name Judas, a derivative of Judah. The gospel does not have a narrative framework, nor is it worked into any overt philosophical or rhetorical context."

But I'm sure you know more than Prof Lambdin, who, besides translating this text from Coptic, wrote the Biblical Hebrew, Coptic, and Ethiopic textbooks I use. As they say, self-recommending.

I can recommend Paula Fredriksen's "When Christians Were Jews" which I've just finished. Here is a review by Prof. Larry Hurtado ...

Thanks Donald. Even reading Mark, I can see this interpretation.

Nothing that you've quoted contradicts anything that I've said about the Gospel of Thomas.

Well, I guess one wouldn't expect young Stoic snots to have written in Coptic. Still, the Gospel of Thomas has the feel of hyper-sophisticated philosophical critical know-it-all-ery -- of philosophical criticism masquerading as mystical insight. At any rate, that's how I remember it, and the quotation from it above confirms this remembered impression. In general, the Nag Hammadi library material resembles the in-crowd journal-pieces of obfuscating academics -- maybe the wiritings of Lacan, Deleuze, and people like that would be even more accurate analogies than those of Feuerbach and Marx.

Are you reading all these texts in English ? If so, spare me your comparative analysis.

I want to apologize to Adjunct. I don't believe SacredTexts are sufficiently translatable to warrant assessing their style in any other language, but you couldn't know that. The fact that you have read so widely, even in translation, is admirable, as is adding to the discussion on this blog.

#1 I sense I am being Straussianed but I don't know how.

'Does late night tweeting degrade next day performance?'

Can you set a posting time for twitter like you can a post to a web site? Or if twitter does not precisely provide that feature, is their a service that does?

After all, time of writing and time and posting need not have any immediate relationship.

I haven’t read Mr. Douthat’s article, but there has been a great increase in pagan symbols in my neighborhood in the past few weeks. Evergreen trees and lights representing the winter solstice are everywhere, and people are even hanging up boughs of mistletoe representing Baldur. Furthermore, today is December 12, and my Mexican friends are celebrating a fiesta with deep roots in Aztec beliefs.

Funny how Mexicans tend to believe that they're descended from the ones doing the sacrificing rather than from the ones getting sacrificed.

Indeed, reading Mr. Douthat takes on a voyage of the 5 stages of grief. He still has not got past the denial phase, though we've seen anger (Wagnerian rationalization at the Bush as old guard) and we've seen Bargaining (Hegelian Christ-child at the Trump-Epstein-Clinton fiasco column he wrote)

Dear Adjunct-Filth:
I am not sure, but I guess they assume that the sacrificed ones left few descendants.

#1. I pretty much agree with the complaints here. The idea that non-pronoun-dropping leads to individual freedom is pretty ridiculous and the reasons given for why it's wrong are good ones. A classic example of correlation vs. causation and confounding variables. Just because he uses the word "problematic" a lot doesn't mean he's wrong.

Say it real slow, hun.

What me take a stand for British independance


#5: "To get a fully revived paganism in contemporary America, that’s what would have to happen again — the philosophers of pantheism and civil religion would need to build a religious bridge to the New Agers and neo-pagans, and together they would need to create a more fully realized cult of the immanent divine, an actual way to worship, not just to appreciate, the pantheistic order they discern."

...That's called Burning Man.

But to be less flippant, I get the appeal. Many people describe me as nonreligious. In general, I'd agree. However, I do feel that it causes a certain spiritual gap in my experience, and a social separation because of the lack of a similarly believing cohort. I wouldn't mind establishing a stronger connection to others through some form of ritual or congregation. However, I balk at the request of that congregation, to find a way to give up some aspect of oneself to be a part of the group. Furthermore, it's not like I can just come up with new beliefs about the way of the world; it would have to be a system that is neither theist nor atheist. So I've learned to stay content without religion.

Techno-mediated mass-communication of celebrity-images -- salvific participation in the life (and death) of the celebrity -- is already the fully developed paganism of the brave new world.

4. Congratulations! (Though I note it was nominated by the publisher of the book...) I'm still not sure why Pollan's book isn't making these lists more regularly. Do people just hesitate to recommend or endorse a book about psychedelics?

No. Because they rightly suspect it is deeply irresponsible to praise psychedelics in way that might inspire some young or otherwise vulnerable person to self-experiment.

Cultx by nakamura.

#4 Congratulations Professor Cowen, feels somewhat funny that your new title is mentioned amongst the best books of the year by a company you work (write) for and by the person who released the book. I mean even good reads need as much media coverage as possible, yet - if I may use harsh words - it makes that list look more in-bred than honest. It would have been simpler to call that list "recommended books of 2018" than "best books of 2018".

Well, Prof. Cowen is a champion of self-recommending.

@ Mankiw
Let's see. The economists have been telling us offshoring and liberal immigration will bring us fantastic prosperity. In practice, it seems to have led to fantastic prosperity for people like Jeff Bezos and wage stagnation for the middle class.

With globalization, capital will move to low wage areas and coolie immigrant labor will move to high wage areas as things move toward an equilibrium. You might think that sounds like a very raw deal for the American middle class. But the economic experts assure it's all working out beautifully. While nominal wages might be trending towards a pitiful global mean, the increased efficiency will allow labor to more than make up for it as consumers. The flaw here is that the major household expenses like housing, education, medical care, etc. aren't helped at all by globalization (in the case of housing, high immigration combined with land scarcity, it's the exact opposite). Oh, but look at all of shoddy Chinese merchandise you can buy from Walmart and Amazon!, says the economist.

Under classic Ricardian trade, you have two economies (say Britain and France) that trade goods with one another, allowing for comparative advantage and so forth. Under modern globalization, that is not what's at all what's going on. Instead you have international capitalists living in wealthy countries but who do not want to pay for going rate for labor in a wealthy countries. So they bring in coolie immigrant labor or move their capital out of the country to a dirt poor country and then bring the finished goods back to sell at home. The economists tell us it's more "efficient." But it's really just labor arbitrage. True efficiency gains come from technological innovation. Globalization in fact obviates the need for innovation since you have the easy gains from cost cutting (not only wages, but also health benefits, retirements benefits, environmental regs, etc.). High wages in contrast encourage a substitution of capital for labor, i.e., real technology gains.

Median male wages have been stagnant since the 70s. Economists have no answers. They tell us it's inevitable. We can't stop the immigration or the globalization. We have no choice but to acquiesce to the international capitalists.

#5 - "[T]hose of us who still believe in a divine that made the universe rather than just pervading it — and who have a certain fear of what more immanent spirits have to offer us — should be able to recognize the outlines of a possible successor to our world-picture, while taking comfort that it is not yet fully formed."

This is the logical conclusion of current doctrinal Christianity. Salvation is fully realized through complete cession to one's enemies, even--nay, especially!--to the point of extinction. By contrast, when a faith like Islam or Judaism requires cultural and geographic space, they simply take it, confident in their obedience to God.

If that's the Christian Faith, then it deserves to die. Ross, still a very young man, is enthusiastically offering up a post-Christian world to his children, which perversely becomes a Christian duty.

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